The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling
NEW YORK CITY — The Wild will try for the regular season sweep of Big Apple clubs on Sunday night when it plays at the brand-new UBS Arena for the first time.
Minnesota won 3-2 over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center back in November before securing a victory over the New York Rangers by the same margin on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
A stumble out of the gates against the Rangers left the Wild in a 2-0 hole after 20 minutes. But Minnesota rallied with a pair of goals in the second and another by Freddy Gaudreau in the third to post its fifth multi-goal comeback win of the season, most in the NHL.
“We knew it wasn’t good enough,” said Wild forward Kevin Fiala. “They were just better than we were, they were faster, more physical. They were more hungry.
“But that’s the good thing about our group is that we can just flip the switch. Obviously we don’t want to do that, we want to be ready right from the start to the end. But on nights like [Friday], it’s good that we can figure it out and take it over.”
Fiala and Mats Zuccarello are riding matching 10-game personal point streaks entering the game on Sunday, two shy of Mikael Granlund’s franchise mark of 12.
Zuccarello has been especially dangerous of late. He’s tallied multiple points in six consecutive games, which set a new Wild record. He and Connor McDavid are the only two players in the NHL this season to have multiple points in six-straight contests.
“What he’s doing with his work ethic, the stuff that you guys don’t see, his leadership qualities, being vocal in the right areas, he doesn’t just chirp for the sake of chirping,” Wild coach Dean Evason said of Zuccarello. “He says the right thing then he backs it up with his work ethic. He’s been a leader on our hockey club in all areas.”
Minnesota’s win over the Rangers Friday pushed the team’s point streak to eight games, posting a 7-0-1 mark during that stretch.
The Wild is in the midst of its second point streak of eight games or more already this season, the first time in franchise history it has recorded two such streaks in a single season. A win on Sunday would match the previous one from Nov. 21-Dec. 9 that stretched nine games (8-0-1).
Sunday’s game marks the second and final meeting of the season between the clubs. The Wild won 5-2 in St. Paul back in November which came during a stretch in which the Islanders opened the season with 13 consecutive games on the road.
The schedule has been home heavy of late, as Sunday’s contest marks the 19th of its past 23 the Islanders have played on friendly ice. The game now marks the fifth of a seven-game homestand and was supposed to be the second of back-to-backs for the Islanders, who were scheduled to play the Seattle Kraken in a Saturday matinee.
Weather forced the postponement of that game, however.
While it will be an uphill climb for the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division – New York currently sits 17 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference – it has played better of late, winning seven of its past 10.
The Islanders are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, however.
New York has an 8-8-3 record at UBS Arena, which officially opened for business on Nov. 20. But that record is deceiving, as the Islanders lost their first seven games at the arena before winning 4-2 over New Jersey on Dec. 11.
The Islanders are 8-3-1 at home since.
Mat Barzal has established himself as one of the top offensive threats in the NHL. He leads the Islanders with 18 assists and 27 points. Former University of North Dakota star Brock Nelson, a Warroad native, has a team-high 13 goals.
Former Wild forward Zach Parise has three goals and 12 points in 36 games this season.
Ilya Sorokin has seen a bulk of the action in net, posting a 12-7-5 mark in 24 starts with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. Semyon Varlamov, who allowed three goals on 37 shots in the loss to Minnesota earlier this season, is 3-8-1 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.